“Humorless Prig”? “Game Girl”? No One Escapes Toxic Misogyny

Leon Wieseltier didn’t harass all the women he worked with. For him, wrote Michelle Cottle in her bombshell Atlantic piece about the fabled editor: “Women fell on a spectrum ranging from Humorless Prig to Game Girl, based on how much of his sexual banter, innuendo, and advances she would put up with.”

There’s nowhere on that spectrum that’s a comfortable place to be.

Like many have this month, I found myself on an email thread with a group of women discussing our respective experiences with a known harasser in our circle. During the course of our chat, we asked a question many women have been asking: why some of us and not others? How do some people get lucky, and others get victimized?

Because when you read about widespread abuses that seem to hit every industry, every workplace, every woman, you can’t help but wonder: Why me, then? Why not me, the other time? While some misguided voices chimed in early on in this discussion to discuss women’s own behavior as a factor in this fight, we know from too many anecdotes that modesty is hardly a preventative shield, nor is age—nor even perceived beauty.

So what is it? In this particular case, it comes down to power and luck, as it almost always does: women in long-term partnerships, with notable networks of personal and professional support, had been largely left alone by this guy—while women directly reliant on him were targeted. And yet here we all were on the email thread, in solidarity with each other, in shared anger.